A 63-year-old guest worker in Okanogan County died Friday night while under quarantine at a farm labor camp, according to a statement released by his employer, Gebbers Farms.
Earl Edwards had been doing seasonal work at Gebbers Farms for more than 10 years. He first showed signs of possible COVID-19 illness on July 21, and after visiting a doctor, went into quarantine in separate lodging the company has set up for those who may be sick with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
A company spokesperson said workers in the quarantine facility are checked at least twice daily, and that earlier Friday, Edwards appeared to be doing well, did not have a fever or show other COVID-19 symptoms. But later he was found unresponsive.
Gebbers is one of the largest orchard companies in Eastern Washington, and this is the company’s second guest worker death during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are profoundly saddened by this loss … our hearts go out to his wife, family and friends,” said Cass Gebbers, chief executive officer of Gebbers Farms.
Edwards’ death comes as Okanogan County is struggling with a rapidly escalating number of COVID-19 cases; farm labor camps where workers reside have been a particular point of concern.
A spokesperson for Gebbers said the company and the worker followed recommended guidelines for the pandemic. The spokesperson said she did not know Edwards’ home country but that this information would be available in coming days.